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27.01.2021

No longer science fiction

Direct Air Capture technique in Hellisheiði – no longer science fiction.

Although the need for a massive increase in value creation in Iceland is great, it doesn‘t mean that the solution is to run faster and jump higher. We can choose to harness ingenuity to create a new game system. We can choose to create a fourth export pillar for the small island, one that is based on green, climate-friendly innovation.

Green ingenuity: A new economic pillar?

The innovative process is as dynamic as it is unpredictable. Opportunities often arise on the verge of the impossible, ones that can be unrelated to the goals set out with. The Carbfix innovation project, that began only in 2006, was intended to develop a technology that speeds up the natural process of turning carbon dioxide (CO2) into stone, with the ultimate goal of fighting off climate catastrophe and to reduce emissions. A few years on, it became clear that we could use the same technology to reduce the emission of hydrogen sulphide (H2S), and in a manner that is far more eco-friendly and less costly than the traditional process. Following even more innovation, we can now combine the Carbfix technique of permanently storing CO2 (and H2S) with Climeworks’ Direct Air Capture technology – effectively filtering past emissions from the air and turning them into stone underground. A few years back, this would have been considered science fiction.

New Carbon Storage Industry in Iceland

A new, climate friendly carbon storage industry, based on Icelandic ingenuity, could now become the country‘s fourth economic pillar. Alongside capturing and storing CO2 directly from Iceland‘s green energy plants and other industrial processes, it is also possible to store CO2 that is transported to Iceland by ships that are themselves powered by renewable energy sources. Thereby reaching considerable economies of size, as well as creating a synergistic effect for the creation of electric fuel, as the ships could transport the electric fuel created in Iceland to foreign markets on their way back.

Carbon-Negative by 2050?

The Icelandic government has ambitious goals to make Iceland carbon neutral by 2040. In order to do this, we must create a new game plan surrounding e.g. consumption habits, transportation, energy- and industrial processes and recycling. Although most of the solutions required already exist, we know that with innovation and the goal of a circular economy we can maximise the results and minimise cost. With targeted innovation, we can create a carbon-negative society, no later than around the mid-century; this must be the goal we aspire to.

The challenges we have all faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic will pale in comparison with the portentous catastrophes ahead if we don‘t manage to stop global warming.

Why not solve two problems at once? Why not create massive opportunities and value from the air with diligence, courage, and exciting innovation as our guiding light, while also reaching ground-breaking results in the fight against climate change?